Our History

The Avon community was once a suburb of the city of Lebanon.  According to the Courier newspaper of September 23, 1869 Avon was: “This neat little village…situated two miles east of the Borough of Lebanon, and on the line of the Lebanon Valley Railroad.  Its inhabitants are generally farmers.  It contains 20 good dwelling houses; one variety store; one hotel; one blacksmith shop; two coal yards; one lumber yard; one flouring mill; two store houses; post office; school house and two shoe manufacturers.”  The community of Avon is now part of both North Lebanon and South Lebanon Townships (divided by King Street), and is located just outside the city limits.  Prior to the construction of the Zion church, members of the community traveled to Salem Church on what is now North 9th Street to worship.  But they also met in the homes of Rev. Joseph Light (at 15th Ave. and E. Old Cumberland St.) and Daniel K. Spayd for small group meetings.

On July 16, 1870, a group from the Salem Church (now Covenant United Methodist) was appointed as trustees to procure a location for a church to be built in Avon.  These men were Michael Kreider, Hon. Joseph Light (an associate judge of Lebanon County, the son of Rev. Joseph Light above mentioned), James Benson, Rev. J. B. Daughtery and Rev. H. H. Gelbach.  In 1871, Rev. S. V. Mohn was appointed to serve the church in Avon.  Since 1872, three different buildings have stood at this site at 1205 East Old Cumberland Street and served this congregation.  A small, white, frame church with a steeple and red fence measuring 30 feet by 50 feet was constructed on the original 50-by-100 foot lot, which was purchased for $300.  The first board of trustees of the Zion United Brethren in Christ Church of Avon were Joseph Light, James Benson, John H. Benson, Peter Swope, Peter Rauch, Philip Schaeffer, and Jacob Loser.  The church building was dedicated on September 1, 1872.  Services at this small church were conducted in English although most of the community and the membership spoke Pennsylvania Dutch on a regular basis.

In 1885, a parsonage was constructed at 1300 E. Old Cumberland.  It still stands and is no longer owned by the church. In 1892 another parsonage was purchased.  This building is our offices for the secretary, pastor, and youth director.

Then in 1893, the membership had grown enough that the little white church could no longer seat all persons who attended the church.  A cemetery on the grounds was relocated, the white frame church was moved to the rear of the lot, and a new church was constructed on the same site.  The cornerstone was laid on May 21, 1893 and was dedicated on October 22, 1893.  This was during the pastorate of Rev. Jacob H. Mark.

In 1903, improvements were made, including the installation of an organ, still in use, given by Mr. Andrew Carnegie.

The original 1872 church was used for Sunday School classes, which had met since 1876, until 1920.  The building was too small to accommodate the needs of the congregation.  The old building was torn down and a new Sunday School extension was built.  The cornerstone was laid on May 30, 1920 and the extension was dedicated on April 10, 1921.

Improvements were made in 1937 including exterior paint, refrescoing, and new carpet.

In 1946, the Evangelical Church and the Brethren in Christ Church merged; and Zion Brethren in Christ Church became Zion Evangelical United Brethren.

In 1955, Dr. John J. Light, gave the church a Maas-Rowe Carillon with tower amplification, in memory of his parents Seth and Ellen Light.  This carillon is housed in the steeple of the current structure which was finalized in 1962.  Further improvements between 1955 and 1962 included a renovation to the education wing, the excavation of a basement, and a rebuilt sanctuary.

In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged with the Methodist Church to form The United Methodist Church.  Thus Zion EUB became Zion UMC.

Picture1The church built in 1893.

227341_101340649955411_7906361_n (1)          The church today.